This article originally published on Better After 50.
"The secret to beautiful skin is simple," my new friend Jessica began, "First, eat a healthy diet -- lay off the processed foods and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Second, drink plenty of water..."
"Hold it." I said. "I know where this is going. It's the answer to everything from menopausal belly fat to cancer prevention. Eat right, exercise, no smoking, lots of water, no sun, plenty of sleep. It reminds me of a joke my friend sent me the other day -- doctor, will I live to be 80?:
A man in his 70s goes to a new doctor. "Doctor, do you think I'll live to be 80?
"Well..." doctor responds, "Do you smoke or drink hard liquor?"
"Oh no," the man replies, "and no drugs either."
"Do you eat rib eye steaks or barbequed ribs?"
"Not much. My former doctor said that red meat is very unhealthy."
"Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking or bicycling?"
"No, I don't."
"Do you gamble, drive fast cars or have lots of sex?"
"No, I don't" the man responds.
And the doctor looks at him and says, "Then why do you give a shit?"
I told Jessica this joke as I was perched on a high stool at the Laura Mercier counter at Bloomingdales.
Jessica Berndt is a professional makeup artist that I met when I wandered into Bloomingdales (always dangerous) because I was having a bad day -- a no good, very bad, horrible day, and to make matters worse, we were due for yet another snowstorm here in New England and my husband has a bad shoulder and I have to do all the shoveling. I know, I know, get over it.
"I know what to do," I told Jessica. "Everyone knows what to do. We (the royal we) just don't do it. Could you just make me look good for a few hours and give me a few take-aways so that I can look better when I eat wrong, don't get enough sleep, don't drink enough water, stay out in the sun all day and have too much to drink? Because that pretty much sums up my life."
So began an hour of laughter and make-up advice and work productivity (somehow I convinced Jessica to write an article the 5 steps to better skin at midlife this week on BA50.) And because I am nice and not 16, here's what I learned from Jessica- - once we got beyond the healthy living thing:
The Before: I can hear my mother saying, "Rub Your Blush In!"
Cream blush or powder? "Doesn't matter, but you want 'like' on 'like.' Cream blends best on creamy surfaces, and powder blends best on powdered surfaces. If you are using a cream blush apply it to moist skin. If you are using a powder blush apply it to a powdered surface." (This explains why my mother is always tells me rather bluntly, "You have too much blush on -- rub it in.")
What's the difference between a foundation and tinted moisturizer? "Nothing. They just started calling foundation 'tinted moisturizer' because no one wants to wear foundation." (That makes sense. I would never wear foundation, but I wear tinted moisturizer daily.)
Come on, do I really need powder? "Yes, it gives you a set look, and if you want to apply any powder blush or bronzer, the powder goes on underneath." (See above.)
What do you use to remove your makeup? "Coconut oil. Massage a glob onto your face, and it gets every lick of make up off without stripping or drying out the skin." (from oil pulling to cooking to makeup removal to 98 other uses...it appears that coconut oil is the most versatile product around. I've got to get myself to Whole Foods today.)
How do I get that 'glow from within' look? "Keep the skin moist and dewy. Dab a cream blush on the apples of the cheeks. Personally I only powder my t-zone and leave my cheeks as shiny and moist as I can get it." (I'm going to forget this one. I am way beyond moist and dewy. Is there such a thing as moist and dewey after 50? If I were moist and dewey, I think mold might start to grow.)
Can you hide my wrinkles? "If your biggest worry is wrinkles, suck it up. Please, don't ever go for the 'Fay Dunnaway-stuck-in-a-wind-tunnel-and-startled look.' Embrace your face."
Do I really have to throw out my makeup after a few years? "Makeup goes bad. Once you open your product, it starts ticking. Powders you can keep for upwards of a year, creams really no more than six to nine months. Mascara or anything that touches your eye directly like liquid liner you need to keep it absolutely no longer than three months. And if that means that your budget cries for a drug store brand, than get to a drug store, but don't keep it any longer." I am throwing my year old mascara out when I get home. I am certainly not looking for a Bob Costas pinkeye look.
I want to look like I just got back from Florida. "Buy a bronzer."
What's the single most important makeup product for women over 50 that they might not have already? "An eyebrow pencil. Use it to fill in the gaps -- you will see a huge difference." And when she used it on me, I did see a huge difference, and I bought one. Actually, I bought a lot of things, but my husband reads this so I don't need to delve into this right now -- I prefer he thinks I am a natural beauty.
Other tips for women over 50? "Start with your eye makeup -- before anything else. That way, when you mess it up, you won't have to start all over again with the foundation and concealer and all that." OK, that's brilliant. Jessica must have seen me try to apply eye makeup.
The After: Better blush, and check out those eyebrows!